UAB gets approval for $20M football ops building, covered practice field

The rebirth of UAB's football program took another huge step Friday when the UA system's board of trustees gave final approval for the construction of a $20 million football operations building and covered practice field.

The new 46,000-square-foot football operations building will include locker rooms, offices, meeting rooms, a weight room, a dining area and a study hall. The school also will build a covered practice field, UAB athletic director Mark Ingram told ESPN.

The project is expected to break ground in August and will target a July 2017 completion date, Ingram said.

"We will have an indoor practice facility -- but with no walls," Ingram said. "It's a pioneering concept."

The covered practiced facility will protect the team from the elements and also cost less than a traditional indoor facility. The new football building will replace UAB's current outdated offices.

Since the program was shut down in December 2014, the school has successfully embarked on a fundraising program to bring football back.

"Eighteen months ago, they eliminated the program, and we've raised over $38 million in gifts and pledges in the last year," Ingram said. "It's absolutely mindboggling."

Of the $38 million, $20 million was designated for the football operations building and covered practice field. If an additional $2.5 million is raised, UAB also will add two new practice fields.

Legacy Community Federal Credit Union donated $4.2 million toward the project, the largest single gift in UAB history.

On Dec. 3, 2014, the school announced it was shutting down the Blazers' football, rifle and men's bowling teams. Six months later, the school reversed their decision.

UAB's football program makes its return on Sept. 2, 2017, against Alabama A&M. This fall, the Blazers will not have any games, but will be allowed to practice.